Heroes Return Blog – Stories from Second World War veterans’ trips

About this blog

In April 2009 the Big Lottery Fund launched Heroes Return 2, awarding grants for Second World War veterans or their widows to return to where they saw active service and attend memorial events in the UK. This is an account of stories from the veterans’  trips, war time recollections, photos and videos.

The blog is for veterans and anybody else involved such as family members, carers, and BIG’s Heroes Return team.

Tell us your story

Do you have a story you would like to share? We would like to hear from you.
Please email us socialmedia@biglotteryfund.org.uk

9 Comments so far
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I am the general Manager for ‘Spirit of Remembrance’, a new (but with a LOT of experienced people!) Battlefield and Remembrance Travel tour operation. We have a series of Links to Big Lottery Heroes Return 2 at our main site:


and our secondary site:

I would be most grateful if you could extend links back to our sites from the ‘Links’ page on Heroes Return 2.

Wiht grateful thanks in anticipation:

Nikki Archer-Waring
General Manager
Spirit of Remembrance

Comment by Nikki Archer-Waring

There are so many people that need to be applauded and so many battles that need to be recognized. This site is wonderful, to hear veterans stories makes it not just part of the history books. There is another site that is trying to do the same thing and give back to the Monte Cassino Community where the Battle of Monte Cassino took place in 1944. I had never heard of this battle before until a few weeks ago. It makes me wonder what other battles and stories are out there that not many know about.

If you are interested in archival articles, diaries and videos check out the site http://www.indiegogo.com/BattleforMonteCassino

It is in the process of collecting donations for the Monte Cassino Community to help educate a new generations (such as myself) about the battle of Monte Cassino and unite the global Cassino Community.

Comment by M.E Miller

Please allow me to introduce myself, my name’s Sanjiev Johal I work for a television production company called Windfall Films. We’ve been asked by Channel 4 Television to look at putting together a 24-hour television event to mark the anniversary of D-Day next year (2013, not the 70th anniversary of the landings in 2014). Essentially, this would involve telling the story using archive material, analysis and including the memories of surviving veterans. Here is where I would be incredibly grateful for your help.

In order to convey the most accurate, honest and insightful account of those events, we would need to speak with the surviving veterans who endured those moments first-hand and became a living part of a history they created. With the inevitable passage of time sadly taking its toll on the numbers of D-Day veterans still alive today, locating those still with us is proving increasingly difficult. I was wondering if ‘Heroes Return’ might be able to put us in touch with any surviving D-Day veterans that the blog/service might have some contact with. In the first instance we’re just looking to talk to them about their experiences of those events, we’re not looking to film anything at this stage. Knowing of your service and commitment to veteran affairs, I thought I could possibly call on your help to try and speak to some of the D-Day heroes about that crucial moment in history before we lose them forever.

I’m very grateful for your time and help with this enquiry. Please feel free to call me on 020 7251 7676 or email me at sanjiev@windfallfilms.com if you’d like to discuss any of this further. I look forward to hearing back from you as soon as possible.

Kind regards

Sanjiev Johal

Windfall Films
One Underwood Row
London N1 7LZ UK
Tel: 020 7251 7676
Fax: 020 7253 8468

This email message is confidential and for use by the addressee only. If the message is received by anyone other than the addressee, please return the message to the sender by replying to it and then delete the message from your computer. Internet emails are not necessarily secure. Windfall Films does not accept responsibility for changes made to this message after it was sent.

Comment by Sanjiev Johal

My father (then Captain LBH Custance Baker, RCOS) was a Far East POW working on the Thailand/Burma Railroad. While he was missing my mother kept in touch with the wives and mothers of the 68 men in his unit. I am putting these letters and my father’s memoirs together to make a book. I am posting tiny sections of the story on my blog at http://www.greenwritingroom.com I am also trying to find any relatives of the Royal Corps of Signals, 27 Line Section, as I have access to letters from their relatives.

Comment by hilarycustancegreen

Hello Hilary, thank you for your comment and for the link to your blog. It’s interesting to hear that you are piecing together your father’s memoirs. We’ve been very moved by the stories of veterans funded by Heroes Return. Very best wishes.

Comment by Big Lottery Fund

This is a wonderful scheme. I am a tourism lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton – one of my colleagues has recently accompanied his father on a funded trip to Australia to revisit places he served in at the end of WW2. Speaking to both of them has been very impressive and moving, and I would like to link it to my research interests. Would it be appropriate to use material from the blog for my research? I would acknowledge the source appropriately. Would it be possible to contact others who have gone on funded trips to learn about their experiences going back to places they/their loved ones served in?

Dr Paul Fallon
Senior Lecturer (Leisure Industries)
School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure

University of Wolverhampton
Walsall Campus
Gorway Rd

0044 (0)1902 323279

Follow Leisure Industries on Twitter @wlv_leisure, Like us at facebook.com/leisureindustries and Join us on LinkedIn

Comment by Paul Fallon

Hi Paul,

Thanks for reading the blog and for taking the time to comment. We agree, the stories of the veterans are very moving to read. I’ll make contact with our press team to discuss the points you raise and will reply in due course.

Best wishes.

Comment by Big Lottery Fund

Beach Signal Party Anzio replacement March 43, Gordon Hughes, later to Vis Yugoslavia and then Far East to Hong Kong surrender.

Comment by Gordon Hughes

Hello, I would so love to contact Colonel William Frankland as my father, Lt. Col George Haslam, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., D.O trained at St. Mary’s Paddington, attended Prof. Alexander Fleming’s lecture on his discovery of Pencillin, and was adamant that Fleming discovered it. He also spent 4 years in Burma 1941-1945 with 48 Field Ambulance, 14th Army, attending many campaigns including the capture of Ramree Island and Rangoon and attending to the sick and wounded. In 1945, General Honda, of the Japanese Army, surrendered to my Father presenting him with a sword of equal rank which is now in the R.A.M.C Museum near Aldershot along with the story of the surrender.
It would be such a privilege to discuss this with Col. Frankland as he may have known my Father who sadly died in 2001.
I tried after I heard him on Radio 4 but to no avail, then saw him last night at the Remembrance Service. Please help me contact him or vice versa.
Vanessa Wilkins

Comment by Vanessa Wilkins

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